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Introduction to Responsible Innovation


Admission requirements

Intended for all Bachelor students registered for the minor Responsible Innovation.


This is the introductory course for the Responsible Innovation minor. Technology plays an ever-increasing determining factor in our lives as individuals and society at large. New technological innovations contribute to human well-being, but they may also introduce considerable risks to humans, animals, the environment and future generations. As such, we have every reason to insist that the new technologies we develop as a society respect the values we hold dear. Various governments, companies and research funding agencies have now recognized this need for “responsible innovation.” The main aim of this course is to reflect on the nature of technological innovation in relation to societal and ethical concerns, and to gain a solid understanding of the notion of responsible innovation and value-sensitive design. Responsible innovation can, as a concept, be understood in a substantive and in a procedural sense. As a procedural notion, responsible innovation refers to a process of innovation that meets certain norms, like transparency, public engagement, and accountability (to stakeholders and to society). As a substantive notion, responsible innovation refers to a process of innovation that results in innovative technologies that reflect important moral values, including health, safety, human and animal welfare, sustainability, justice, inclusiveness, democracy, privacy, trust, and autonomy. In this introductory course we will learn about responsible innovation by studying different values and what it means to innovate according to them. Throughout the course, we will explore questions such as: what does it mean to make the world better with innovation?

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Understand what responsible innovation means by explaining the following key theoretical concepts: ethical values, the value-laden nature of technological artefacts, value sensitive design.

  • Analyze and debate ethical values at stake in concrete cases of innovation.

  • Identify at least one methodology for embedding ethical values into technological artefacts.

  • Discuss challenges with respect to the embedding of ethical values in technological artefacts.

  • Debate the role of technological innovation in relation to the value of human well-being.

  • Develop a cogent ethical argument applying course theory to a case study of technological innovation.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture
    Attendance in this course is mandatory. In case of no-show, the tutor should be informed about your absence prior to the actual seminar session. Moreover, this course cannot be successfully completed by students that were absent more than twice.

Assessment method


  • Group Assignment (40%)

  • Individual Assignment (40%)

  • Take home examination with open questions (20%)


The final mark of the course is established by determining the weighted average


If the end grade is insufficient, it is possible to take a resit examination for the individual assignment and the take home examination. The faculty rules relating to participation in resit examinations can be found in article 4.1 of the faculty Course and Examination Regulations (OER).

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Readings for the course will include a selection of articles and book chapters covering responsible innovation and associated topics (e.g., ethics of technology, value-sensitive design), made available through Brightspace. Examples of readings from past years include:

  • Sheila Jasanoff – The Ethics of Invention

  • Kate Raworth – Doughnut Economics

  • Jeroen van den Hoven, “Value Sensitive Design and Responsible Innovation”

  • Martha Nussbaum – Who is the happy warrior? Philosophy, happiness research, and public policy

  • Philip Brey – “Wellbeing in philosophy, psychology and economics”

  • Ashley Shew, “Ableism, Technoablism and Future AI,”

  • David Herold, Timo Dietrich, Tim Breitbarth – “Banking on Bullshit: Indifferences towards truth in corporate social responsibility”


Students need to register for the minor at their home university and for each individual course through My Studymap Login | Universiteit Leiden


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal